ULCCS’s respect for the migrant worker stems from a sociocultural revolution in Kerala’s Malabar region

When Coronavirus struck, the manner in which India’s oldest construction cooperative treated its migrant workers stood in sharp contrast to the Indian government’s apathy. But the respect for the migrant worker at ULCCS should not surprise anyone who knows the story of its birth 95 years ago, writes Anil Varghese

Before Prime Minister Narendra announced the 21-day lockdown on 24 March springing a surprise on the daily-wage worker, who was now left with two choices – either to remain destitute in the city for that period or walk hundreds of kilometres to their homes – three buses had arrived in Malda, West Bengal with daily-wage labourers who had been working in Kerala. Their employer, Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society (ULCCS), had booked the buses to take the labourers back to their homes. The COVID-19 cases were rising in Kerala and worksites were closing. That’s when a few of the 2500 ‘guest workers’ employed by ULCCS said they would like to return home. The trains were full, so the cooperative arranged the buses. The others stayed back in Kerala in the accommodation provided by ULCCS, which also provides them with free food. 

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